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A Brief Introduction to Frank Gehry
Frank O. Gehry was born in 1929 in Toronto, Canada, and lived there until he immigrated to Los Angeles, California, in 1947. Frank graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Southern California in 1954. From 1969 to 1973, Frank designed a furniture line called Easy Edges. The curved, swooping forms of his chairs, all constructed from corrugated cardboard, foreshadow the movement he wanted to express in future designs like the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Dancing House in Prague. An accomplished master, Frank has won many awards, chief among them the Pritzker Prize for architecture in 1989 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.
9 Famous Buildings Designed by Frank Gehry
From the beginning of his career, architect Frank Gehry rejected traditional modernist aesthetics, which prioritized simplicity and minimalism. Instead, he surprised the viewer with experimental, deconstructivist designs, forging a new utility of space and application of material. Here are nine of Gehry’s most famous buildings:
- The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain: Frank’s design for The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain features a series of stainless steel waves arranged in a sculptural design, which became somewhat of an aesthetic signature for the architect
- Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany: Rolf Fehlbaum—member of the furniture company, Vitra—commissioned the design for the Vitra Design Museum from Frank, which is now home to one of the largest modern furniture collections in the world. Frank applied his deconstructivist technique to this building, combining white plaster and titanium-zinc materials to create an innovative blend of shapes for this building, which was completed in 1989.
- Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, California: Opened in 2003 in downtown Los Angeles, the Walt Disney Concert Hall is not just known for its iconic, undulating design, but also its acoustics, making it a perfect home for both The Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and Los Angeles Master Chorale. Frank collaborated with Manuel Rosales, an organ consultant and tonal designer, to ensure the sonic functionality of this performing arts space.
- Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris, France: The Louis Vuitton Foundation is a contemporary art museum including 11 galleries, offices, storage, education spaces, a restaurant, auditorium, and concert hall. The design of this large glass and steel building features sheets of material layered on top of one another to resemble a nineteenth-century ship.
- Weisman Art Museum in Minneapolis, Minnesota: Located at the University of Minnesota, the outer layer of this building is made of stainless steel in multiple finishes, and it has the appearance of a series of cylinders stacked on top of one another. The building was designed before computer-aided design (CAD) software started to become heavily used, which is notable due to its intricate design.
- Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Washington: For this project, Frank wanted to create a building that captured the essence of rock n’ roll; early models for this project incorporated the pieces of dismembered electric guitars. The finished building has a stainless steel exterior wrapped in handcrafted aluminum shingles that resemble draped fabric.
- Gehry Residence in Santa Monica, California: In the early stages of his career, Frank experimented with his design concepts when building his own home. What began as a pink bungalow became a deconstructivist art piece, wrapped in corrugated metal, glass and chain-link fencing.
- InterActiveCorp (IAC) Building in New York City, New York: Finished in 2007, the IAC building—boasting ten stories, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows—has become a recognizable landmark on Manhattan’s west side, and marked Frank’s entrance to New York’s architecture scene. The igloo-like building was intended as a modern take on the office building, designed to create a collaborative work environment.
- 8 Spruce Street in New York City, New York: In 2010, construction was completed on this towering 76-story skyscraper in Manhattan’s Financial District. The glass building blends into the New York sky, and contains a public school, retail spaces, and apartments. In a piece for the New York Times, architecture critic Nicolai Ouroussof called it “the finest skyscraper to rise in New York since Eero Saarinen's CBS Building went up 46 years ago.”
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